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What awaits pensioners in Donbas? 

What awaits pensioners in Donbas? 
Article by: Zhanna Bezpyatchuk
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Kyiv – By December 1, all the pensioners who resided in the ATO zone or Crimea, have to acquire an internal migration certificate to receive pensions from the Ukrainian state. For this, the citizens have to turn to the headquarters of social policies in their new location of residence. The fate of lonely elderly people who are unable to physically leave the ATO Donbas and who have not been getting any money for several months remains unclear. The Ukrainian government assures that the new demand to re-register pensions is grounded in security considerations: this is how the Ukrainian government encourages its citizens to leave the combat zone which is out of the government’s control. 

Horlivka-based journalist Roman Kosenko is currently trying to receive the internal migration certificate in Kyiv. He emphasizes that those who have re-registered their pensions can receive this certificate in the same city only.

“I went to the employment and social protection headquarters, this is where they grant you internal migrant status. This is the only thing you need to continue receiving pensions starting December 1,” he says.

He had to prepare the following documents to receive the certificate: copies of his national passport, his birth certificate as well as that of his children, as well as his taxpayer code.

However, he notes that in some freed cities in Donbas, they are demanding of pensioners to provide other certificates, which are not prescribed by law, besides the aforementioned documents. Essentially, this is a problem the government should take note of, as this brings about corruption and abuse once more: the appropriate ‘additional’ certificates can be bought, says the jounralist/

“Reports keep coming in from cities like Sloviansk, Artemivsk, Kostyantynivka – I am a journalist there myself, – that they demand certificates from public utility services, clearly nobody will issue it if the person does not have appropriate registration, they demand registration, asking for witnesses to confirm that the person lives outside the ATO zone,” says Roman Kosenko.

Journalist: there are lonely elderly people in Donbas who will be unable to leave the ATO zone by December 1

Another journalist from Horlivka Kateryna Peshko also says that Artemivsk and Kostyantynivka demand certificates from the public utility office. Besides, the emphasizes the fact that there are lonely, 80-year-old pensioners who are simply physically incapable of leaving the ATO zone, and who do not support the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ and are going hungry. In light of the government’s demand to re-register pensions and the approaching December 1 deadline, the following question becomes pertinent: what will happen to them?

“My grandma and grandpa have a neighbor who is actually going hungry: he has not been receiving his pension for several months and he has no family on the rest of Ukrainian territory. He lives only off the food that my grandpa brings him. He has no children or grandchildren who would care for him and help him go to all the cities to re-register his pension. He did not go out to block the road for the Ukrainian troops, he did not vote at the ‘referendum,’ he does not support the ‘DNR.’ He is 80 years old. And he has no one,” says Kateryna.

Besides, according to her, during the ceasefire many pensioners returned to the territories that are controlled by the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR.’ According to the government’s logic, they have to leave their homes behind again to receive pensions from Ukraine.

Denysova: “We are concerned about our citizens and are offering them to leave”

Minister for Social Policies Liudmyla Denysova reported on November 10 that as of November 7, over 247 800 retired internal migrants turned to the Pension Fund of Ukraine to transfer their pensions outside of their permanent location of residence. According to her, the biggest number of petitions came from pensioners in Kharkiv and Zaporizhya oblasts.

The Minister also emphasized something that evoked resonance in society: those who do not bring their migrant certificates to the Pension Fund by December 1 of the current year will be unable to receive pensions in their new place of residence anymore. As such, Liudmyla Denysova reminded that according to the order of the Cabinet of Ministers, to receive pensions and social dues, the migrants from the ATO zone have to register with the headquarters for social protection, where they will be issued a certificate that they are internal migrants and live outside the ATO zone or temporarily occupied territories.

“I will explain why there is a necessity to account for internal migrants today: there is an occurrence now, so-called ‘pension tourism.’ People just leave, get their pensions outside of the region, and then return and we don’t know who these people are, why they return to the ATO zone and what events they are involved in,” noted Liudmyla Denysova.

After the government order was published, the people have a month to enlist. “If within a month’s time they do not go and get this certificate, they will not receive pensions and social payments,” said Liudmyla Denysova.

The Minister for Social Policies also assured that the government thus cares not only about the pensions but the security of its citizens.

“The state supports its citizens, but now it is necessary to understand that the territories the government does not control are simply dangerous. We are concerned for our citizens and offer them to leave. We will pay them so that they can pay for their housing, and provide them with all social payments,” stated Liudmyla Denysova.

At the same time, according to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk, those who remain on the pro-Russian-controlled territories, will accumulate their pensions and social dues and will be able to receive them after those territories are freed.

“All the pensions, all social dues, all subsidies are accumulated for each person. When the Russian terrorists leave the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, we will immediately return the territories under our control and personally pay to each individual the subsidies they have a right to,” said the head of government.

Long lines, occupied hotlines

Radio Liberty tried to get through to the hotlines of the Pension Fund of Ukraine to ask about the documents needed to re-register pensions, particularly if it is necessary to bring the public service certificate. However, we failed to do so throughout the work day. All the lines were constantly busy.

The pensioners who will be able to leave the combat zone and start registering their pensions with the support of their families and friends may face huge lines and constantly busy hotlines. As such, the lines to register pensions may include about 600 people a day in the freed cities of Donbas, according to local journalists.

According to the main headquarters of the Ukrainian Pension Fund, over 1373 thousand pensioners live in Donetsk oblast and over 730 thousand live in Luhansk oblast. Accordingly, potentially every citizen has to re-register their pension. However, even the petitions of 247 thousand citizens in the issue to the Ukrainian government bodies brought about incredibly long lines.

Citizen: ‘LNR’ gave one-time payments to pensioners in two districts of Luhansk

Meanwhile on the territories that are being controlled by illegal armed formations ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR,’ individual pensioners were given payments which, according to the locals, were presented as ‘pensions.’

Luhansk citizen Maria says that in September the residents of Kamenobrodsky district of Luhansk were given 1800 UAH. Then the one-time payments were given in another district as well. So money is distributed by district and irregularly, at the moment, only once. The woman also explained that the social cards the pensioners stood in line for during the so-called ‘elections’ do not influence the payments.

“Pensions were received in Kamenobrodsky and Artemivsky districts. The social card does not play a role in receiving such pensions. I did not go to the ‘elections.’ The line was very long. I don’t have the strength to withstand it. My friend stood there until 12 a.m., to receive the social card,” she says.

The locals in Horlivka also say they pensioners were given one-time payments, at least those who had the strength and capacity to stand in long lines for them having registered in advance.

At the moment the Ukrainian government does not say whether in case there are serious reasons (illness, lack of money for the journey), the people will be able to receive the certificate after December 1. Therefore everyone who needs them have a little more than two weeks.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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